Home / Bayangnya itu Timbul Tenggelam Photographic Cultures in Malaysia

Bayangnya itu Timbul Tenggelam Photographic Cultures in Malaysia

2020-07-21 - 2021-05-09



Photography never seems to merely duplicate the everyday world, but is, rather, prized for its capacity to make traces of persons endure, and to construct the world in a more perfect form than is possible to achieve in the hectic flow of the everyday.’
- Christopher Pinney, Camera Indica, 1997.

Bayangnya itu Timbul Tenggelam, that which appears and recedes from view, is a survey of the cultures that developed around photography and its relationship to Malaysia. The exhibition invites us to discover the different values and meanings that people have invested in the photographic image through the years, in an attempt to explore an alternative understanding of the complex modern history of photography.

The exhibition does not aim to offer a ‘history’ of photography in the conventional sense. Instead of tracing the ‘evolution’ of camera technology or presenting a chronology of artistic movements, the exhibition instead highlights how photographs gained new dimensions and meanings through the different ways they were used, collected, and displayed.

Each community and subsequent generation, with their own understanding and ideas regarding photography, would often have to negotiate with the conventions and limitations of the photo studio. This gave rise to interesting pockets of cultural practice. By focusing on the photographic cultures that have emerged in Malaysia, the exhibition also hopes to bring into public conversation the ways in which these local interpretive frames and ways of seeing, contributed to a larger global conversation about the staying power of the photographic image.

Although photography is a portmanteau made up of two words of Greek origin that translates to ‘drawing with light’, the exhibition Bayangnya itu Timbul Tenggelam draws out a ‘shadow’ history. This version of history is forefronted by local players who have shaped cultures that sequentially contributed to the reframing of photography. In turn, the exhibition also prompts us to think about how these values and meanings have helped shape our sense of place and the idea of the nation.

Curated by K. Azril Ismail, Hoo Fan Chon, and Simon Soon.